Demand for Urban Forests: A National and Regional Study
Type of DegreeThesis
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
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Various public policies have been designed to protect our green spaces and stimulate the demand for urban forests within communities. However, very few studies have been conducted to uncover the factors influencing the demand for urban forests and the sensitivity of demand to price and income. This thesis will shed some light by empirically estimating the demand for urban forests. It comprises two interrelated parts, in which two different models and two different data sets are used to test the relationship between various socioeconomic factors and demand for urban forests. In Part I, a theoretical economic model is specified and per capita urban forest data as well as other socioeconomic data from all cities with population over 100,000 across the nation are collected and used for the estimation. The empirical findings suggest that the demand for urban forests is elastic with respect to price and highly responsive to changes in income. The results also show that population growth might induce a negative influence, while urban sprawl has a positive impact on the demand for urban forests. In Part II, I examine the relationship between percentage of urban forests and household income and population density, focusing on cities with populations over 40,000 within the southeast region. Our empirical results show that urban forest percentage across the cities has characteristics of the Environmental Kuznets Curve. We find that household income around $39,000 is a turning point that changes the relationship between income and urban forest coverage from negative to positive; whereas the impact of population density on urban forests is just the opposite, from positive to negative when population density is around 180 persons per square kilometer.